Women: Indecipherable / Men: Dumb
Even in my most single of single days, I was never much for the bar scene. I have the social personality of an Asperger’s grizzly bear, and my chances of success in any given outing were what one might term “less than a sure thing.” And I didn’t help those around me much, either. I believe the term “World’s Worst Wingman” may have been applied on more than one occasion (a role I still play from time-to-time).
As such, I’m a bit fascinated by how people operate in such settings, from an intellectual perspective. Kind of like wondering how bees build a hive. It’s high pressure, it’s complicated, and it’s pretty much essential to the continuation of the species.
The other day, I posted a Nano on research showing that men prefer direct pick up lines (ideal: “Please come back to my apartment and **** me. Or, your place is fine, too. There’s also a motel nearby.”). One might assume that this preference is a direct result of certain male characterisitics: being terrible at reading social situations, being too lazy to read social situations, being interested just in sex and not in conversation.
A study out of Germany, however, shifts a little bit of the blame to… women. Psyblog writes up the experiment:
Grammer et al. (2000) videotaped opposite sex pairs meeting for the first time to catch the nuances of body language in the first 10 minutes of an interaction. Afterwards women were asked how much interest they had in the man they’d been talking to. The researchers revealed two counter-intuitive results:
- In the first minute women behaved no differently to men they fancied than those they didn’t. They sent many positive nonverbal signals to all the men and hardly any negative signals.
- It is only between the 4th and 10th minute that any correlation was seen between an increased sending of positive nonverbal behaviours and wanting to date the man. But even then the difference was only between some positive signals and slightly more positive signals. Again negative signals were very rare.
The reason men prefer a direct approach becomes clearer. Women may think they are sending out all the right nonverbal signals and may blame men for failing to pick up on them. But from a man’s perspective there may often be little to pick up on because women, being polite, are always sending positive nonverbal signals.
In the absence of interpretable nonverbal signals, what does the average guy have to go on other than directly expressed interest?
Well, he can battle through those 10 minutes and see what happens. But 10 minutes is an eternity in awkward bar pickup time (I’ve never experienced smooth bar pickup time — I assume it goes faster).
Of course, for all the study in the world, people will keep being people. Women will keep being indirect; and men will keep having no friggin’ clue what they’re getting at. And, as usual, someone will have to go first (usually the man) and risk humiliating himself.
Good thing I outsmarted my wife into making the first move.